1,001 Albums


Daniel Lanciana
32 min readFeb 6, 2023



Listening to all albums (at least once) in the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die list. For the record, 1000 *pretty much anything* is an absurd undertaking.

Each album has a little background and any tracks I particularly enjoyed.


Great means the whole album was fantastic. Good albums have at least 6 songs I like. Honorable albums have at least 4 songs I like. Ranked as entire albums, not by artist or isolated tracks.

Great: Country Life (Roxy Music), Crime Of The Century (Supertramp), Pretzel Logic (Steely Dan), Young Americans (David Bowie), Horses (Patti Smith), Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd), Boston, Hotel California (Eagles)

Good: Kimono My House (Sparks), Sheet Music (10cc), Another Green World (Eno), The Köln Concert** (Keith Jarrett), Tonight’s The Night (Neil Young), Station To Station** (David Bowie), África Brasil (Jorge Ben)

Honorable: It’s Too Late To Stop Now* (Van Morrison), Queen II (Queen), Winter In America (Gil Scott-Heron / Brian Jackson), Sheer Heart Attack (Queen), No Other (Gene Clark), Grievous Angel (Gram Parsons), Physical Graffiti* (Led Zeppelin), Toys In The Attic (Aerosmith), Born To Run (Bruce Springsteen), Blood On The Tracks (Bob Dylan), A Night At The Opera (Queen), Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, Arrival (ABBA), Destroyed (Kiss)

Bad: Phaedra (Tangerine Dream), Good Old Boys (Randy Newman), Rock Bottom (Robert Wyatt)

* Many tracks
** Few tracks

#301 | Van Morrison — It’s Too Late To Stop Now

Live double album recorded over three months with an eleven-piece band, the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, while touring California and London. One of the first live albums to have string players. Unlike most live rock albums, there was no studio overdubbing allowed by Morrison — leading to the removal of the popular song Moondance because of a single wrong guitar note (released in 2016 as part of Volume II)!

The title of the album comes from a line shouted at the end of the concert, which was a line from a different song (Into the Mystic).

Unfair to other albums to have a greatest hits-style compilation in the list.

  • Into the Mystic
  • These Dreams of You
  • Wild Children
  • Domino
  • I Just Wanna Make Love to You
  • Listen to the Lion

#302 | Joni Mitchell — Court And Spark

Recorded over most of 1973, reached №2 in the United States and №1 in Canada and eventually received a double platinum certification by the RIAA. Cameos from Robbie Robertson, David Crosby and Graham Nash and even a twist of comedy from Cheech & Chong (Twisted)! Stevie Nicks took LSD while listening to the album; Bob Dylan fell asleep.

Note: Not on Spotify (YouTube).

# 303 | Queen — Queen II

The first album to contain elements of the band’s signature sound of multi-layered overdubs, vocal harmonies, and varied musical styles. The band approached David Bowie to produce, but he declined. The album’s working title became “Over The Top” in reference to extensive overdubbing. Delayed release due to the 1973 oil crisis. John Deacon was credited as “Deacon John,” which was corrected.

The two sides of the original LP were labelled “Side White” (smoother songs) and “Side Black” (fantasy, more aggressive), with corresponding photos of the band dressed in white or in black on either side of the record’s label face. Mercury composed and sang all six songs on the “Black” side.

Mick Rock’s cover was inspired by a similar photograph of Marlene Dietrich from the 1932 film Shanghai Express. Frequently re-used by the band throughout its career — including the music videos for Bohemian Rhapsody and One Vision.

  • Ogre Battle
  • Nevermore
  • The March of the Black Queen
  • Seven Seas of Rhye

#304 | Roxy Music — Country Life

Named after the British rural lifestyle magazine. The cover features two models the band met in Portugal. They are credited on the lyric sheet for their German translation work for Bitter-Sweet. Censored in some countries with an opaque shrink wrap (US, Spain), black plastic sleeve (Australia), or used the original back cover (trees). Ranked 387 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2003).

  • Entire Album

#305 | Tangerine Dream — Phaedra

The first Tangerine Dream album to feature their now classic (Moog) sequencer-driven sound, which is considered to have greatly influenced the Berlin School genre. The album received virtually no airplay and sold barely 6,000 units in Germany. The album title refers to Phaedra of Greek mythology.

The title track was originally based on an improvisation recorded in the studio, and unintentionally changes towards the end as the oscillators began to warm up and detune. The title track and Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares are both featured in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. The sleeve design and cover painting are by band founder, Edgar Froese.


#306 | Sparks — Kimono My House

The title was a pun on the Rosemary Clooney song Come On-a My House, which was a pun on Dick Garcia’s Kimona My House track!

The cover is inspired by a Life magazine World War II propaganda photograph, and features two members (one would later add vocals to David Bowie’s It’s No Game) of Japan’s Red Buddha Theatre who were in town at the time — but instead of a photo of Winston Churchill features the Spark’s previous album. Notable for having neither the band name or album title on the front.

Remastered and re-issued in 1994 and 2006; a vinyl-only 40th Anniversary Edition in 2014. Coinciding with the 40th Anniversary release the entire album was performed, along with the 35-piece Heritage Orchestra, at the Barbican Centre. In 2020, ranked number 476 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

  • This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us
  • Amateur Hour
  • Falling In Love With Myself Again
  • Here In Heaven
  • Thank God It’s Not Christmas
  • Hasta Mañana, Monsieur
  • Equator
  • Lost and Found

#307 | Supertramp — Crime Of The Century

The album’s dedication “To Sam” is a nickname of the Dutch millionaire who supported the band financially from 1969 to 1972. Due to a contractual agreement, all songs are jointly credited — even though some of the songs were written individually. The band recorded 42 demo songs, from which only 8 were used on the album.

The cover was shot in a darkened studio using multiple exposure and black card sheet filled with holes for the stars. The back cover photograph, featuring band members in their underwear holding dress suits and top hats, was originally made when the album cover was meant to be a gatefold.

The first (1977) pop album re-issued by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. Also released as a Audio Master Plus CDs (1984), Mobile Fedelity Ultradisc (1984), remastered CDs (1997 and 2002), Speaker’s Corner 180 gram LP (1999), and a 3LP box set (2014). In 2015, it was chosen as the 27th greatest progressive rock album by Rolling Stone.

  • Entire album

#308 | Richard & Linda Thompson — I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight

The album, provisionally titled Hokey Pokey, was recorded on a shoestring budget of £2,500. Owing to vinyl shortages, it was not released until 1974. In 2003, number 479 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

  • The Calvary Cross

#309 | Gil Scott-Heron / Brian Jackson — Winter In America

Limited initial distribution in the US and quickly became rare in print, it eventually sold over 300,000 copies in the US. The original album name was Supernatural Corner. One of the prominent examples of early rap.

The studio’s main room was so small that when the two musicians recorded, Jackson had to play flute in the hallway while Scott-Heron sang in the main room! The cover artwork is titled Supernatural Corner and features a painting with a small figure version of whom appears to be Brian Jackson.

Note: Not on Spotify (YouTube).

  • Rivers of My Fathers
  • The Bottle
  • Song for Bobby Smith
  • H2O Gate Blues

#310 | Queen — Sheer Heart Attack

Reissued in 2011.

  • Killer Queen
  • Flick of the Wrist
  • Now I’m Here
  • In the Lap of the Gods

#311 | 10cc — Sheet Music

Recorded at night in the same studio where Paul McCartney was recording during the day; they used Paul’s drum kit in the album. In 2015, Graham Gouldman performed the album live in its entirety with his 10cc touring band.

  • The Wall Street Shuffle
  • The Worst Band in the World
  • Hotel
  • Old Wild Man
  • Silly Love
  • Baron Samedi
  • The Sacro-lilac
  • Oh Effendi

#312 | Neil Young — On The Beach

The title was deleted from vinyl in the early 1980s, only briefly available on cassette and 8-track cartridge tape, and unavailable on CD until 2003 (after 5,000 fans signed a petition)! Since re-released as part of a box set and high-resolution audio on the Neil Young Archives website.

Young often changed session musician’s instruments while offering only barebones arrangements for them to follow. During recording Young and his colleagues consumed a homemade concoction dubbed “Honey Slides” — a goop of sautéed marijuana and honey that “felt like heroin.”

Young was convinced to swap the LP sides at the last moment, which he later regretted. The cassette and 8-track versions had the intended order. In 2020, Rolling Stone’s number 311 on The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Note: Not on Spotify (YouTube).

  • See the Sky About to Rain
  • On The Beach

#313 | Gene Clark — No Other

Costing over $100,000 ($525,000 today) to record eight tracks — a commercial failure largely ignored by critics, not promoted by the label, and deleted from the catalog two years later. Clark never recovered from the failure.

First issued on CD in 1989 — just prior to Clark’s death. Reissued in 2003 as a “lost masterpiece.” In 2019, the original tapes were remastered at Abbey Road Studios and reissued as a standard CD, vinyl LP, deluxe double-CD set, and an expansive super deluxe box set.

The final track, Lady of the North, was written in a cocaine haze after moving back to LA and getting into the party circuit. The front cover was a collage inspired by 1920s Hollywood glamour, while the back featured a photo of the singer with permed hair and clad in full drag, frolicking at the former estate of John Barrymore.

In 2014, musicians from Beach House, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear put together a band named the Gene Clark No Other Band for a four-concert tour where they performed the entire album.

  • Life’s Greatest Fool
  • No Other
  • Strength of Strings
  • Some Misunderstanding

#314 | Steely Dan — Pretzel Logic

The cover photo of a pretzel vendor was taken by Raeanne Rubenstein taken on the west side of Fifth Avenue and 79th Street. In 2003, Rolling Stone’s number 385 on The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

  • Entire album

#315 | Randy Newman — Good Old Boys

The opening song Rednecks features taboo topics such as slavery and racism. Newman performs with members of the Eagles on Every Man a King. In 2012, number 394 on Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Really bad, drops the n-word.

#316 | Bob Marley & The Wailers — Natty Dread

Marley wrote all the songs, but credited friends and family members to avoid contractual obligations during a dispute with his former publishing company. It was challenged in court in 1987, with Marley’s estate winning.

No Woman, No Cry has been performed by artists as diverse as The Fugees, Pearl Jam, Jimmy Buffett, Rancid and Gilberto Gil. Quadraphonic mixes of Lively Up Yourself and No Woman, No Cry have been bootlegged from the master tapes and are available on the internet. Remastered in 2001.

In 2012, number 181 on Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

  • No Woman, No Cry

#317 | Robert Wyatt — Rock Bottom

Recorded following a 1973 accident where Wyatt was drunk and fell from a fourth-floor bathroom window, leaving him a paraplegic. Produced by Pink Floyd’s drummer, Nick Mason, and enlisted musicians including Ivor Cutler, Hugh Hopper, Richard Sinclair, Laurie Allan, Mike Oldfield and Fred Frith.

Much of the album had been written while in Venice prior to the accident. The cover is a pencil drawing by Wyatt’s wife and poet, Alfreda Benge.


#318 | Gram Parsons — Grievous Angel

Released four months after his death from a morphine and alcohol overdose. A hybrid between country and rock n’ roll Parsons called “Cosmic American Music.”

During recording, Parsons was battling heroin and alcohol addiction. Lacking new material, he quickly wrote two songs during the sessions and used rejected songs from previous albums. Various members of Elvis Presley’s “Taking Care of Business” band were involved.

Parsons’s widow removed his singing partner, Emmylou Harris, from the cover (originally credited to “Gram Parsons with Emmylou Harris” and featured a photograph of the two of them) and removed the original title track, Sleepness Nights. The three unreleased tracks were included in the album Sleepless Nights two years later.

Medley Live from Northern Quebec is a fake live recording featuring canned applause. In 2012, number 425 on Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

  • Hearts on Fire
  • I Can’t Dance
  • Brass Buttons
  • Love Hurts


#319 | Eno — Another Green World

An ambient album with only five of its fourteen tracks feature vocals. Features contributions from Robert Fripp (guitar on St. Elmo’s Fire), Phil Collins (drums on Tiger Mountain), Percy Jones (fretless bass), Rod Melvin (piano), and John Cale (The Velvet Underground, viola).

Facing a mental block, Eno employing tactics from a creativity card deck called Oblique Strategies. Unconventional recording techniques such as “snake guitar,” “uncertain piano,” “castanet guitars” (electric guitars played with mallets), “Leslie piano” (acoustic piano miked and fed through a Leslie speaker), and “digital guitar” (guitar threaded through a digital delay and fed back on itself). To create the lyrics, Eno would play the backing tracks singing nonsense syllables to himself — then taking them and forming them into actual words, phrases and meaning.

The cover is a detail from After Raphael by the British artist Tom Phillips. In 2012, number 429 on Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time; 338 in 2020. Pitchfork’s number ten greatest albums of the 1970s. Title track used in BBC’s television show Arena.

  • Sky Saw
  • St Elmo’s Fire
  • The Big Ship
  • Sombre Reptiles
  • Golden Hours
  • Everything Merges With The Night

#320 | The Dictators — Go Girl Crazy!

Considered a precursor to punk rock.

#321 | Neu! — Neu! ‘75

By this time, Rother and bandmate Klaus Dinger had somewhat diverged in their musical intentions for the band, Dinger preferring a more aggressive, rock-influenced style than Rother’s ambient predilections. As a result, they agreed to a compromise: Side 1 of the record was recorded in the old Neu! style, as a duo, with Dinger playing drums. For the pieces on side 2, Dinger switched to guitar and lead vocals, recruiting his brother Thomas and Hans Lampe to play drums (simultaneously).

The single for ISI (pronounced “Easy”) was sold in an unmarked paper sleeve and is now a collector’s item. David Bowie alluded to the album on Heroes.

  • ISI
  • Seeland

#322 | Led Zeppelin — Physical Graffiti

During recording bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones became disillusioned and considering quitting — the band’s manager advised him to take the rest of the year off. Included previously unreleased tracks to make a double-album. The title was coined by Page to illustrate the whole physical and written energy that had gone into producing the album. The first album to go platinum on advance orders alone!

The album was originally released with a die-cut sleeve design depicting the NYC tenement block at 96 to 98 St. Mark’s Place. The fourth floor of the building had to be cropped out to fit the square album cover format. The middle cover can be moved to spell out the album name; images in the windows include W. C. Fields, Buzz Aldrin, Lee Harvey Oswald, Marcel Duchamp and Pope Leo XIII. Release was delayed because the die-cut was difficult to manufacture. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of best album package. The same doorway was used in the The Rolling Stones music video promoting Waiting on a Friend.

Issued as a double-CD in 1987, but done without input from the band (the first pressing accidentally edited off the banter at the end of In My Time of Dying). Page was unhappy and remastered the entire back catalogue in 1990. The album was properly reissued in 1994. An extended remastered version was reissued in 2015 — and comes with an altered colour version of the original album’s artwork as a bonus disc cover. A number of other outtakes from earlier sessions were later included on the 1982 album, Coda.

Rolling Stone ranked it number 70 on The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003; 73 in 2012; 144 in 2020.

22 track double-album. Sound feels flat.

  • In My Time of Dying
  • Houses of the Holy
  • Trampled Under Foot
  • Kashmir
  • In the Light
  • Ten Years Gone
  • The Wanton Song

#323 | Keith Jarrett — The Köln Concert

With sales of around 4 million, the best-selling solo album in jazz history and the best-selling piano album. The concert was organized by Germany’s youngest (18 years old) concert promoter at the late hour of 11:30pm following an opera performance. The show was sold out and filled to capacity (1,400 people). The first jazz concert at Köln Opera House.

Jarrett arrived tired after driving from Zürich to find a rehearsal piano (due to opera house staff confusion) in poor condition (pedals didn’t work properly) instead of the Bösendorfer 290 Imperial concert grand piano he requested — which required several hours of tuning to make it playable! Jarrett had not slept well and had back problems that required him to wear a brace. A mix-up at the restaurant before the show meant he was only able to eat a few mouthfuls.

Because the piano registers were thin/weak in the upper/lower registers, Jarrett concentrated his playing in the middle portion of the keyboard — producing extensive improvised material over a vamp of one or two chords for prolonged periods of time. Subtle laughter at the beginning of Part I is in response to Jarrett quoting of the melody (G D C G A) of the Köln Opera House signal bell announcing the start of a performance. He doesn’t remember doing this.

Released on CD in 1983 (3 tracks) and 1984 (4 tracks). A single-layer SACD was released in Japan. In 1990, Jarrett finally agreed to publish an authorized transcription. Featured in the film soundtracks Bad Timing and Caro Diario.

Only four tracks, needs to be listened to as a whole.

  • *Almost* the entire album

#324 | Aerosmith — Toys In The Attic

In 1986, Run-DMC covered Walk This Way with Aerosmith. Toys in the Attic and this cover are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame list of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. In 2003, ranked №228 on Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

You See Me Crying sounds very AC/DC!

  • Walk This Way
  • Sweet Emotion
  • Round and Round
  • You See Me Crying

#325 | David Bowie — Young Americans

Recording took place between the Diamond Dogs Tour and included then-unknown singer Luther Vandross as a backup singer and Apollo session musician and funk guitarist Carlos Alomar — who would be Bowie’s bandleader for the next 14 years. One session with John Lennon where they recorded Fame (Bowie’s first #1 hit) and a cover of Across the Universe.

Recorded under several working titles including Dancin’, Somebody Up There Likes Me, One Damned Song (a quote from the title track), The Gouster, Shilling the Rubes, and Fascination. During this time, Bowie’s cocaine addiction heightened at a rapid pace, and as a result, he stayed up day and night recording while the band slept!

Bowie initially wanted to commission Norman Rockwell to paint the cover, but retracted the offer when it would take at least six months. The eventual back-lit photograph was taken by Eric Stephen Jacobs. In 2012, number 175 on Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

  • Entire album

#326 | Burning Spear — Marcus Garvey

The label remixed the original Jamaican mix of the album to be more palatable to white audiences, outraging Burning Spear.

A dub version of the album, Garvey’s Ghost, was released four months later. The Jamaican release does not include the final track, Resting Place. Remastered in 2010.

#327 | Bruce Springsteen — Born To Run

Given an enormous budget in a last-ditch effort at a commercially viable record. The album took more than 14 months to record, with six months alone on the song Born to Run (which Springsteen wanted to sound like “Roy Orbison singing Bob Dylan, produced by Spector”)! The album’s release was accompanied by a $250,000 promotional campaign.

The cover was taken by Eric Meola, who took 900 photos in a three-hour session, which was compiled in Born to Run: The Unseen Photos. The iconic pose has been imitated many times — including on the Sesame Street album, Born to Add.

The 16th most celebrated album in popular music history according to Acclaimed Music. In 2001, VH1 27th greatest album of all-time. In 1987, ranked №8 in Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years” and 18th on The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2003). Springsteen and the E Street Band performed the album in its entirety and for the first time in 2008 (several times since).

A few very rare “script cover” original pressings have Meeting Across the River billed as The Heist, and the original album cover has the title handwritten with a broad-nib pen. Other releases include several limited edition 12-inch vinyls, 1980 CBS half-speed Mastersound master version, 1999 QUIEX vinyl LP edition, 2015 30th Anniversary Edition box set, and 2014 180g vinyl.

  • Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
  • Night
  • Born to Run
  • Jungleland

#328 | Emmylou Harris — Pieces Of The Sky

Boulder to Birmingham was written for Gram Parsons, who had died the previous year; For No One is a Beatles cover; Coat of Many Colors is a Dolly Parton cover (Dolly later covered Boulder to Birmingham).

  • If I Could Only Win Your Love
  • Bottle Let Me Down

# 329 | Dion — Born To Be With You

The recording sessions were lengthy and chaotic, often hampered by Phil Spector’s drinking and unpredictable temperament (Spector produced six of eight tracks).

Bruce Springsteen and Miami Steve visited the studio during recording. On completion in 1974, Dion disowned the record stating that the production sounded like “funeral music.” Spector shelved release of the album for a year.

  • Only You Know
  • Runaway Man

#330 | Joni Mitchell — The Hissing Of Summer Lawns

The Jungle Line is the first commercially released song to include sampling, featuring a loop recording of African musicians. The African theme is featured on the cover — dark-skinned people carrying a snake in the Beverley Hills suburbs — with Mitchell’s house marked in blue (green for UK issue) on the back cover. On the original album the people and snake are embossed.

In 2020, ranked 258 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Note: Not on Spotify (YouTube).

  • The Jungle Line
  • Shades of Scarlett Conquering

#331 | Tom Waits — Nighthawks At The Diner

Recorded over four in front of a small invited audience set up to recreate the atmosphere of a jazz club. The title and cover were inspired by Edward Hopper’s 1942 painting, Nighthawks. The working title was Nighthawk Postcards from Easy Street.

During Nighthawk Postcards (From Easy Street), Waits ad-libs lines from Sinatra’s That’s Life.

Mostly spoken word / poetry.

#332 | Neil Young — Tonight’s The Night

Recorded in 1973, buy delayed until 1975.

ranked number 331[3] on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, moving up to number 330 in the list’s 2012 edition and climbing further to number 302 in the 2020 update

Included with the early original vinyl releases is a cryptic message written by Young: “I’m sorry. You don’t know these people. This means nothing to you.” On the front of the insert is a letter to an unknown character called “Waterface.” The picture of Roy Orbison in the insert is taken from a bootleg tape Young came across. When unfolded, a whole side of the insert features a lengthy article printed entirely in Dutch; Young explained that he chose the article after some Dutch girls who were visiting him translated the story and made him aware of the fact “that someone on the other end of the world exactly understood what he was trying to say.”

The Reprise Records label on the vinyl was printed in black and white rather than the standard orange. Early editions of the sleeve were made on blotter paper. A small package of glitter was supposed to be placed inside the sleeve that was meant to fall out (“our Bowie statement”) when the listener took the record out.

Note: Not on Spotify (YouTube).

  • Tonight’s the Night
  • Borrowed Tune
  • Come on Baby Let’s Go Downtown
  • Mellow My Mind
  • New Mama
  • Tired Eyes

#333 | Bob Dylan — Blood On The Tracks

Dylan recorded the album in NYC, but shortly before release at his brother’s urging abruptly re-recorded much of the material in a studio in Minneapolis; the final album contains five tracks recorded in New York and five from Minneapolis.

The album reached №1 on the Billboard 200 charts. In 2015, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2003, ranked №16 on Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (9th in 2020). In 2004, ranked №5 on Pitchfork’s list of the Top 100 Albums of the 1970s.

In 2003, a high-definition 5.1 SACD release. In 2019, limited release of the original test pressing for Record Store Day. Referenced in the Public Enemy tribute song Long and Whining Road. Film adaptation of the same name.

  • Tangled up in Blue
  • Idiot Wind
  • Meet me in the Morning
  • Shelter from the Storm
  • Buckets of Rain

#334 | Patti Smith — Horses

Debut album after being signed after being spotted performing during a two-month residency at NYC club CBGB. Produced by former Velvet Underground band member, John Cale, who said the band initially “sounded awful” and played out of tune due to their use of damaged instruments — forcing him to procure the band new instruments before work on the album began! Features adaptations of the rock standards Gloria and Land of a Thousand Dances.

The two guest musicians, Allen Lanier of Blue Öyster Cult and Tom Verlaine of Television, got into a physical altercation during the final recording session. The title alludes to “pull[ing] the reins on ourselves to recharge ourselves…We’ve gotten ourselves back together. It’s time to let the horses loose again. We’re ready to start moving again.”

The cover photo was taken by Robert Mapplethorpe at the Greenwich Village penthouse apartment of his partner. Embedded on the jacket is a horse pin that Allen Lanier had given her; the slung jacket recalls Sinatra. Arista executives wanted to make various changes to the androgynous photograph, but Smith overruled.

In 2003, ranked number 44 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (26th in 2020). In 2006, one of the All-Time 100 Albums by Time. In 2009, preserved by the Library of Congress into the National Recording Registry. In 2021, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

For the 30th anniversary in 2005, Smith performed the full album at the Royal Festival Hall — backed by original band members Lenny Kaye and Jay Dee Daugherty, as well as Tony Shanahan on bass guitar and piano, Tom Verlaine on guitar, and Flea on bass guitar and trumpet. For the 40th anniversary in 2015, Smith performed the entire album in a series of concerts. Reissued in remastered in 1996, 2005 (30th anniversary) and 2012 (Record Store Day LP).

  • Entire album

#335 | Pink Floyd — Wish You Were Here

The bulk of the album is taken up by Shine On You Crazy Diamond — a nine-part tribute to founding member Syd Barrett, who left the band seven years earlier due to deteriorating mental health. During production, an overweight man with shaved head and shaved eyebrows carrying a plastic bag entered the studio — it was a coincidental visit from Barrett who was “desultory and not entirely sensible.”

Recorded at EMI’s Studio Three (now Abbey Road Studios). The studio engineer inadvertently spoiled the backing tracks for Shine On and the entire piece had to be re-recorded. Roy Harper performed vocals on Have a Cigar due to Water’s stressed vocals.

The band played much of Wish You Were Here at the Knebworth music festival. Roy Harper, performing at the same event, on discovering that his stage costume was missing, proceeded to destroy one of Pink Floyd’s vans, injuring himself in the process — resulting in the need to use an out of tune keyboard and simpler light show.

The cover was inspired by people “getting burned” in the music industry. The photo of two stuntmen was taken at Burbank Studios (now Warner Bros. Studios). Initially the wind was blowing in the wrong direction, burning one of the stuntman’s moustache. The two stuntmen changed positions, and the image was later reversed. The versions released on Harvest label (in Europe) and on Columbia label (among others, USA, Canada and Australia) use similar, but different photos from the photo session.

The back cover depicts a faceless “Floyd salesman selling his soul” in the desert (shot in the Yuma Desert in California). The absence of wrists and ankles signifies his presence as an “empty suit.” The inner sleeve shows a veil concealing a nude woman in a windswept Norfolk grove, and a splash-less diver at Mono Lake — titled Monosee (the German translation of Mono Lake) on the liner notes — in California. The album was covered in black-coloured shrink-wrap.

Reaching number one in the US and UK, EMI was unable to keep up with the demand. Has sold over 20 million copies. With 900,000 advance orders (the largest for any Columbia release), it reached number one on the US Billboard chart in its second week. Pink Floyd’s fastest-selling album ever. Acclaimed Music’s 212th most celebrated album in popular music history. In 2003, ranked number 209 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (211 in 2012, 264 in a 2020). In 2015, the fourth-greatest progressive rock album by Rolling Stone.

Remastered and reissued in quadraphonic SQ (1976), Hi-Fi Today audiophile print (1980), half-speed mastered audiophile LP (1981), remastered CD (1994), Mastersound released a 24-carat gold-plated CD (1994), 17-second longer CD (1999), 25th anniversary (2000), SACD (2009), Immersion Box Set (2011), and 180g vinyl (2016).

  • Entire album

#336 | Queen — A Night At The Opera

Reportedly the most expensive (£40,000, equivalent to £357,000) album ever recorded at the time of its release. A complex production that extensively used 24-track tape recording and unusual equipment, it was recorded at seven different studios over a period of four months. Completed a week before the band went on tour, resulting in a 36-hour mixing session and only three and a half days to rehearse — with four hours taken off to shoot the music video for Bohemian Rhapsody!

Named after the Marx Brothers’ film of the same name. Subsequently, they became good friends with the film’s star Groucho Marx. The cover features the band’s logo, which was designed by Mercury. The opening track Death on Two Legs was a reference to the band being broke at the time (paid £60 weekly) — despite the success — due to management issues.

During the recording, Bohemian Rhapsody was affectionately known as “Fred’s Thing” — and the title only emerged during the final sessions. The band’s first UK number one. Because the song was twice as long as the average single, management initially refused to release it — but relented after populate radio disc jockey Kenny Everett played it on his show 14 times.

In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked it at number 128 on The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In 2018, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. According to Acclaimed Music, it is the 147th most celebrated album in popular music history. Re-released on DVD-Audio (2002), 30th anniversary (2005), and 5.1 remaster (2012).

  • Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to…)
  • You’re My Best Friend
  • The Prophet’s Song
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • God Save The Queen

#337 | Willie Nelson — Red Headed Stranger

A western concept album inspired by a song Nelson played as a disc jockey. Columbia executives thought the finished album was a demo, but Nelson had full creative control so no changes were made. The title became a nickname for Nelson.

Nelson’s first number one hit with his cover of Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. In 2003, ranked number 183 on Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (237 in 2020). In 2006, it was ranked number one in Country Music Television’s 40 Greatest Albums in Country Music. In 2010, it was inducted to the National Recording Registry.

Time of the Preacher was used in Bob Dylan’s 1978 film Renaldo and Clara; and episodes of Edge of Darkness; and lyrics were used in comic and television series Preacher.

An episode of Monk, Mr. Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger, guest-stars Willie Nelson. The complete album was performed and recorded by Carla Bozulich in 2003, which included a guest appearance by Nelson. After numerous attempts to be made, Nelson self-funded a movie of the same name in 1986.

  • Time of the Preacher
  • Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
  • Red Headed Stranger

#338 | Earth, Wind & Fire — That’s The Way Of The World

Soundtrack for a 1975 motion picture of the same name. Reached №1 on both the Billboard 200 and Top Soul Albums charts.

Shining Star went on to win a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. In 2004, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked 486 on The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (420 in 2020).

  • Shining Star
  • That’s The Way Of The World
  • Reasons

#339 | Curtis Mayfield — There’s No Place Like America Today

The cover was based on a 1937 photograph by Margaret Bourke-White, At the Time of the Louisville Flood, on which the advertising slogan was “There’s No Way Like the American Way.”

  • Jesus


#340 | Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers

  • Breakdown
  • Anything That’s Rock ’n’ Roll
  • Luna
  • American Girl

#341 | The Modern Lovers

Recorded in 1971–72, but not released due to various issues (signing with a label, band disagreements). The Sex Pistols did an early cover of Roadrunner.

In 2003, ranked number 381 on Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (382 in 2012, 288 in 2020.

  • Roadrunner
  • Pablo Picasso

#342 | David Bowie — Station To Station

Working titles for the album included The Return of the Thin White Duke and Golden Years. The vehicle for Bowie’s performance persona the Thin White Duke.

A guest during the sessions was Frank Sinatra, who praised Bowie’s recording of the cover Wild Is the Wind — prompted Bowie to include it as the album’s closing track. During recording Bowie was dependent on drugs, especially cocaine, and later said that he recalled almost nothing of the production (“I know it was in LA because I’ve read it was”)! There were several 24-hour non-stop sessions and at one point Bowie moved his bed into the studio.

The cover is a still from the film, The Man Who Fell to Earth. A full-size, colour version was used for some subsequent reissues of the album. Bowie’s first LP not to include lyric sheets in the packaging.

Bowie appeared on the American television show Soul Train (the second white artist after Elton John), miming to Golden Years but was visibly drunk; the resulting film clip was used as the song’s unofficial music video to promote the single worldwide. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked 323 on The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (324 in 2012, 52 on 2020).

Only six tracks.

  • Golden Years
  • Stay
  • TCV15
  • Wild is the Wind

#343 | Joni Mitchell — Hejira

Written during or after are series of road trips — one as a member of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, and another driving across America without a driver’s license.

The title is an unusual transliteration of the Arabic word more commonly rendered as Hegira or Hijra — meanings “departure or exodus” — that Mitchell found while reading the dictionary. The cover was taken by Norman Seeff, with other photographs taken by Joel Bernstein at Lake Mendota, Wisconsin, after an ice storm. Figure skater Toller Cranston appears on the back cover.

In 2020, ranked 133 on Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Note: Not on Spotify (YouTube).

#344 | Boston

Often referred to as the “Boston sound,” producer John Boyland suggested the band change their name from Mother’s Milk.

The album is a near-complete recreation (all except Let Me Take You Home Tonight) of the demo tape, which was rejected from many major labels before being picked up by CBS — who signed the band to a 6-year, 10 album contract after requiring the group perform for executives to make sure it was a band and not a “mad genius at work in a basement.” The drummer quit before he know the band passed the audition.

Instead of recording on the West Coast, lead guitarist Tom Scholz tricked CBS and recorded the entire album (except Delp’s vocals) at his Massachusetts home! Boyland ran interference at CBS — such as having a custom-made Taylor acoustic guitar for thousands of dollars charged to the album budget while Scholz was recording More Than a Feeling in his basement on a $100 Yamaha acoustic guitar! The album was recorded for only a few thousand dollars. To get the music out of the basement, a snake cable was ran to a remote recording truck.

Certified gold two months after its release, and sold another 500,000 copies within 30 days, going platinum that year. One of the fastest selling debut albums in rock history, it sold 17 million copies in the US and 20 million worldwide. The best-selling debut LP in the US at the time, and winning the RIAA Century Award as best selling debut album. Second best-selling debut album of all time in the US after Guns N’ Roses’s Appetite for Destruction. Joint eighth best-selling album in US history.

  • Entire Album

#345 | Eagles — Hotel California

The band was forced to stop recording on numerous occasions because Black Sabbath were recording Technical Ecstasy in an adjacent studio and the sound was coming through the wall. The Last Resort had to be re-recorded a number of times due to noise from the next studio. Hotel California was spliced together from 33 edits across multiple takes. The title for Life in the Fast Lane was inspired by a conversation between guitarist Glenn Frey and his drug dealer during a high speed car ride.

The cover photograph by David Alexander is The Beverly Hills Hotel shot just before sunset from the top of a cherry picker. The hotel threatened legal action over the use of the image. The rear cover is the Hollywood Lido Hotel lobby. The neon sign was achieved with airbrush as real neon tubings proved difficult to work with.

In 2022, three men were indicted for possession of stolen original lyric sheets worth an estimated $1 million.

One of the best-selling albums of all time, it has sold over 32 million copies worldwide. The title track won a Grammy, and lost Album of the Year to Rumors. In 2001, VH1 placed at number 38 on their 100 Greatest Albums of All Time. In 2004, Hotel California was ranked number 49 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (311 in 2021). In 2003 and 2012, ranked number 37 on Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Original vinyl pressings had custom picture labels of a blue Hotel California logo with a yellow background — and text engraved in the run-out groove of each side, continuing an in-joke trend the band had started with their third album. Reissued on DVD-Audio for the 25th anniversary (2001), hybrid SACD in Japan (2011), 40th anniversary deluxe edition (2017), vinyl LP (2021).

  • Entire album

#346 | ABBA — Arrival

The top-selling album of 1977 in both the UK. Money, Money, Money was renamed to Gypsy Girl and back again. Fernando was re-written with English lyrics and released as a single, becoming the group’s biggest hit to date — hitting №1 in many countries, including a 14-week stay at №1 in Australia.

The cover shots were taken using a Bell 47 helicopter at the Barkarby Airport, northwest of Stockholm. The “mirrored-B” copyrighted ABBA logo — an ambigram designed by Rune Söderqvist in 1976 — also premiered on the cover.

Digitally remastered in 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2006 (Deluxe Edition). In 2016, released as a double vinyl mastered at Abbey Road Studios using Half Speed Mastering.

  • Dancing Queen
  • Knowing Me, Knowing You
  • Money, Money, Money
  • Fernando

#347 | Kiss — Destroyer

During the recording sessions, producer Bob Ezrin resorted to numerous tactics to increase the quality of music as none of the group were trained musicians; at one point providing lessons in basic music theory. Before meeting Ezrin, the band recorded a 15-song demo, of which some were used.

Featured members from the New York Philharmonic. Great Expectations uses the first phrase of the main theme from the second movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata №8 in C minor, Op. 13.

The cover was painted by fantasy artist Ken Kelly. The original version was rejected by the record company because they felt the scene was too violent looking and had the band wearing their Alive! tour costumes.

For the 35th anniversary in 2012, Ezrin remastered the album — including fixing an incorrect lyric (changing “down 95” to “doin’ 95”) on Detroit Rock City — for Destroyer: Resurrected. It features the original cover artwork. In 2021, released as a Super Deluxe box with unreleased tracks from the demo tape.

In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked 489 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The first Kiss album to achieve platinum.

  • God of Thunder
  • Great Expectations
  • Sweet Pain
  • Shout It Out Loud
  • Beth

#348 | Rush — 2112

Pronounced “twenty-one twelve.” The cover ‘Man in the Star’ Starman emblem was adopted by Rush fans as a logo.

The band’s label considered dropping the band, but their manager pleaded for one more album. Despite pressure from the label and management to make a more commercial record, the band ignored the advice and proceeded with material as they saw fit. Rush made a conscious effort to exclude their manager from the writing and recording sessions, and only played the album to him when it was finished!

The centrepiece 20-minute title track, a futuristic science-fiction song about the city of Megadon “where individualism and creativity are outlawed with the population controlled by a cabal of malevolent Priests who reside in the Temples of Syrinx” credited to “the genius of Ayn Rand”; it takes up the entire first side of the album. The first and last sections, Overture and Grand Finale, are instrumental and borrow a short sequence from 1812 Overture by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Overture features an introduction from graphic designer and musician Hugh Syme performed on an ARP Odyssey synthesizer — and contains lyrics from the Bible. Rush would not perform the track in its entirety until their 1996 tour.

Reissued in 1993 (Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab), 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2016 (40th Anniversary Edition).

  • A Passage to Bangkok
  • The Twilight Zone
  • Tears

#349 | Jorge Ben — África Brasil

Ponta de Lança Africano is about an African football striker and became a football-associated track; it was later included on David Byrne’s 1989 compilation Brazil Classics Beleza Tropical.

In 1978, Rod Stewart used a melody from Taj Mahal for his hit song Da Ya Think I’m Sexy? Ben filed a plagiarism lawsuit for which Stewart agreed to donate royalties UNICEF.

  • Ponta De Lança Africano
  • O Filosofo
  • O Plebeu
  • Taj Mahal
  • Xica Da Silva
  • África Brasil

# 350 | Joan Armatrading

Intentionally blank.